Kindergarten after all

Back to school

For those of you who’ve been reading Crayon Writer for a while, you know I strongly want to homeschool or even unschool my now five-year-old daughter. As a single mother, though, I recognize that we need time apart, so I enrolled her in preschool when she was a little older than three.

Preschool worked out off and on, and I still felt that I was primarily homeschooling. I purposely chose preschools that were strongly play-based, so the academics were light. My daughter has been learning to read and do math at home for the most part, and she’s very smart too.

As the big 5 approached, I started interviewing various play-based kindergartens and even the local public school. In the end, I decided to send her back to her preschool so she could continue to play while I taught her at home.

But to my surprise, a couple of weeks ago my little one announced that she wanted to go to kindergarten, not “play” school, and she didn’t want me to teach her at home!! All of a sudden I had to scramble for a school. The play-based kindergarten programs I found were okay, but either far away or had days that were too short.

Believe it or not, despite my strong objections to the “traditional” school philosophy, my daughter will start at a regular, public kindergarten this week! And she’s thrilled. Me…not so much. My issues with traditional schooling involve homework, grades, testing, “socialization” aka peer pressure and bullying/teasing, and extrinsic motivational techniques.

A little background: I have been a substitute teacher (which included several teacher-of-record jobs) for more than 7 years, and I’m currently in teaching certification program. I know how much standards, grades, and tests are stressed, and I’ve seen what negative effects schooling can have on children. Despite my professional aspirations, it seems to me that school is primarily a method to create conforming citizens who tend to go along with the masses. Not what I want for my child.

On the other hand, I went through public schooling, and I came out with a very open and questioning mind, probably because of my parents’ influence. So it’s likely that my daughter will be similar too.

This week will be the beginning of a new adventure. I’m sure I’ll be a regular volunteer at her school (gotta keep an eye on things), and maybe kindergarten won’t suck the fun out of learning (like I imagine it might).

The important thing is that I’m following my daughter’s lead. I’m letting her have a say so in how she wants to be educated (within reason), which is still in the spirit of unschooling. As long as she’s happy and safe, I’ll let her chart her own path. It’s tough being a parent!

7 Responses to “Kindergarten after all”

  1. Mia says:

    Kindergarten can’t be that bad…I remember I had a lot of fun and even made friends. I think that’s important to learn to make friends, they can be a real asset in your life.

  2. Native Son says:

    You’re not going to doubt Harvard research are you? *chuckle*

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129187436

    • Theda K. says:

      $1000 extra per year…whew! that’s a big gap between the rich and the poor. LOL!

      But yeah, I doubt it. I look at David Elkind’s research about the importance of a play-based early education, and I feel guilty that I’m sending her to an academically-focused kindergarten. But she’s having fun and she likes it for now, so it’s all good. For now.

  3. Tracey says:

    Wow amazing that you’re listening and respecting what your daughter wants. I remember kindergarden as a fun time.
    Tracey´s last blog post ..Real Life Experiences

  4. [...] few weeks ago I posted that I decided to send my daughter to a regular public school, despite my strong objections to [...]

  5. For the record, I completely agree with you regarding the public school system. If I had known back then what I know now, I would not have sent my children to public school. However, I think your daughter will be fine either way because she has you at home to balance her out. As long as you support her creativity and celebrate it, she will be fine. But, you may have to fight a few battles with the school on her behalf, so just be prepared.

  6. I’m going through this thought process now! I like you would like to put my son in a play-based kindergarten or homechooling. I actually would prefer to send him to an all boys school but unfortunely I can’t afford to do so at the moment. I am considering taking his lead and he wants to go to the “Big School.” I just don’t think he is ready! Totally agree with you about the public school system. Kindergarten is no where near what it was when we were younger!
    Preschool Lesson Plans´s last blog post ..Apr 20, Preschool Coloring Pages – Why is it Important For Preschoolers to Color?